French Formula One driver Romain Grosjean was fortunate to escape with his life when the Haas star’s car burst into flames on impact with a barrier during the early stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
Heading out of turn three on the first lap, Grosjean speared across the track and collided at speed with the barriers, his car setting ablaze instantly.
The race was immediately red-flagged as medical services rushed to attend to the 34-year-old, who was seen diving from the inferno just in time.
Anyone who has missed it pic.twitter.com/YCS0QJN4bz
Concerns of serious injury or worse immediately went up around the paddock and on social media before initial fears were allayed when the star’s Haas team reported that he had suffered burns but avoided far more serious harm.
UPDATE: Romain has some minor burns on his hands and ankles but otherwise he is ok. He is with the doctors just now.#HaasF1#BahrainGP
Images of the aftermath of the wreckage showed that Grosjean’s car had incredibly split into two on impact with the barrier, making his escape seem all the more incredible.
The race remained suspended as officials desperately tried to rebuild the barrier which Grosjean’s car had decimated with the impact.
World champion Lewis Hamilton’s official Twitter account shared his gratitude that his rival had emerged safely from such a huge smash.
“I’m so grateful Romain is safe. Wow… the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do,” tweeted the seven-time world champion.
“Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we’ve taken for Romain to walk away from that safely.”
I’m so grateful Romain is safe. Wow… the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do. Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we’ve taken for Romain to walk away from that safely https://t.co/dG8AXmsbKN
Hamilton was not the only to praise safety officials and medical staff for their swift response in taking Grosjean to safety.
IndyCar star Dario Franchitti also hailed the marshals at the scene of the terrifying incident.
Maximum respect to the marshals on the scene and the medical car team for diving straight in to help @RGrosjean .Thanks you Jackie Stewart, Sid Watkins, Dr Trammell, Dr Olvey and all the motor racing safety pioneers. #F1
Fans were equally relieved to hear that Grosjean was safe but were also left stunned by the crash, with one writing that the French F1 veteran was “lucky to be alive.”
This man is lucky to be alive ! #BahrainGPpic.twitter.com/KfBjZNF4cX
No words needed… pic.twitter.com/uel7VcaM7G
Speaking to the BBC, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner further allayed any concerns that his driver had been badly injured, but said he was nonetheless heading to hospital for further checks.
“When you see something like this the only thing you think is ‘I hope we get lucky’. You don’t think how it happened or whatever,” he said.
“I would like to thank all the marshals. They did a fantastic job to get him away as quick as possible from the fire. It was amazing what they did.”
LAP 1/57Romain Grosjean, who collided with the barriers, is up and out of his car and is being attended to by medical staff 👍#BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1pic.twitter.com/mUvH9S5pM2
Grosjean had started the race down in 19th on the grid, and replays appeared to show him attempting to move across the AlphaTauri car of Russian driver Daniil Kvyat, then making contact and crashing head-on into the barriers.
When the race in Bahrain did eventually get underway again, there was yet more drama as Canadian driver Lance Stroll’s Racing Point car flipped over following a collision, although thankfully he also walked away unscathed.
⚠️ SAFETY CAR ⚠️Stroll has crashed The Canadian has radioed the team to say he is ok and he’s out of car #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1pic.twitter.com/C6fRGPjBL3
The safety car was briefly deployed to remove the stricken vehicle, before racing restarted with Mercedes star Hamilton leading from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.